Classic features one La. angler

Bass tourney starts Friday

Looking at the 53-angler roster for the 2013 Bassmaster Classic, there’s only one with LA marking home.

Not that L.A., not Los Angeles — LA as in Louisiana.

Greg Hackney, the Gonzales resident, who with wife Julie are raising three children in the Ascension Parish community, is Louisiana’s lone Classic contender.

When the guys line up at the launch Friday morning to head into Grand Lake of Cherokees near Tulsa, Okla., Hackney will be in a select group.

This is Hackney’s 11th Classic, and 15 others in the field have double-digit Classic appearances.

Among them are eight former Classic champions, including defending champ Chris Lane, who took last year’s three-day shootout on the Red River out of Shreveport with a solid three-day 51-pound catch.

And there’s the legendary Kevin VanDam, the four-time Classic winner (2001, 2005, 2010 and 2011), the last coming with a Classic-record 69 pounds, 11 ounces catch from Lake Cataouatche that gave him two titles among the six Classics held in Louisiana since 1999.

The others include Mark Davis (1995), Michael Iaconelli (2003 in Louisiana), Takahiro Omori (2004), Boyd Duckett (2007), Alton Jones (2008) and Skeet Reese (2009).

Hackney is regarded among these elite bass fishermen, yet his best Classic finish was fifth in the 2008 tournament on Lake Hartwell in South Carolina.

And, yes, Hackney has finished last, but only once when he tied with several others in the field for the dismal showing on the Three Rivers system in Pittsburgh in 2005 when he failed to catch a keeper bass. That was the year VanDam won his second Classic with a record-setting low catch of 12 pounds, 15 ounces.

Hackney’s not alone with last-place notoriety: Iaconelli, veteran Shaw Grigsby, Ish Monroe and Garry Jooste are in this year’s field and carry that same burden. Grigsby held the last spot in last year’s Classic.

Still there’s that fifth-place on Hartwell that stands Hackney tall in this field. It was the coldest-ever Classic — the tournament was moved from an August time frame to February beginning with the 2006 Classic — and cold water has been a factor in all but two tournaments since then.

Snow greeted the field on Hartwell near Greenville, S.C., the first morning back in 2008, and Hackney’s ability to catch bass on a jig stood him in good company through the tournament’s three days.

It’s that allure, and his ability to devise a strategy, develop tactics and make modifications with it, that has put him in the money in 94 of the 119 Bass Anglers Sportsman Society tournaments and stand tall as a member of the B.A.S.S.’ million-dollar earnings club. Lots of in-the-know folks believe his prowess with a bait will be the winning lure in this year’s Classic and that has him among the favorites in this year’s field.

The three-day tournament’s weigh-in begins Friday afternoon.

Up-to-the-minute results will be available on B.A.S.S.’ website: http://www.bassmaster.com.